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Mirror of the Witch: Episode 18

Hey guys, I’m filling in for an episode too, and it’s a pretty great one, full of sweeping romance and epic showdowns. Now that Mirror of the Witch is nearing its conclusion, everyone’s putting all their cards on their table and risking lives and kingdoms to be the last one standing, and the result is pretty damn satisfying. Well, as long as you like danger and mayhem, that is. But come on, would you be here if you didn’t?

 

 
EPISODE 18 RECAP

Hong-joo and her shaman army invade Cheongbing Temple, but Yeon-hee and Jun have already fled in the middle of the night.

Hong-joo asks the king for his royal soldiers to help capture Yeon-hee, and the king asks if Hong-joo is trying to absolve herself of her crimes by doing this. He reminds her that their motives happen to align on this one thing, and after the princess is captured, he plans to make Hong-joo pay for her crimes. She assures him that all she wants is for Yeon-hee to die.

But in order to kill Yeon-hee, they’ll need Poong-yeon’s spiritual firepower, and the king is skeptical that Poong-yeon would agree, when he’s already defied the king’s orders once to save Yeon-hee’s life. But Hong-joo says with confidence that Poong-yeon will heed his orders this time.

Out in town, the plague keeps claiming more lives, and Yo-gwang and Soon-deuk are worried when they see people gathering to charge the palace and demand the princess’s life, while others burn her portrait in prayer.

Meanwhile, Jun and Yeon-hee continue to race through the woods holding hands. Run faster!

Yo-gwang hasn’t found Yeon-hee yet, but he tells Poong-yeon that maybe it’s better this way, after seeing the people’s hatred against her in the marketplace. Poong-yeon says they still have to find Yeon-hee before Hong-joo does. Well, you don’t say.

They decide to split up, but Poong-yeon’s step falters, and his eyes flash with that disturbingly similar look that Hyun-seo has whenever Hong-joo is controlling him. The wound from Hong-joo’s black magic knife is obviously bothering him, though he doesn’t let on that anything is wrong.

After a day of running, Yeon-hee’s strength starts to flag, so Jun stoops down in front of her to offer a piggyback ride. He has to pull her onto his back, but she doesn’t fight it, and honestly they both look happier this way.

But as soon as Jun picks her up, Yeon-hee’s stomach gurgles and she’s embarrassed by the noise. Jun just smiles, thinking it cute, and goes fishing in the river for something to eat.

The longer Jun flails about in the river, the more Yeon-hee resigns herself to starving today, but Jun refuses to accept defeat and insists he won’t let her go hungry. I don’t know, I’m with Yeon-hee on this. The poking-a-fish-with-a-stick plan doesn’t seem to be going so well.

Yeon-hee is amused just watching him, but she suddenly winces in pain, and this time her vision goes hazy and Jun becomes a blurry figure. She tries not to alarm Jun and smiles for his benefit, but he can tell the Northern Star is affecting her again, and smiles to cover up his worry.

They spend the night in a cave, and Jun admits that it’s nice to be here with her. He playfully takes on a serious tone and asks Yeon-hee to name all the things she liked about today, and she thinks before answering, “I liked walking in the mountains holding hands.” He smiles.

“And I liked when you carried me on your back when we crossed the stream,” she adds. He practically beams. “It was fun when you couldn’t catch that fish,” she teases. He scowls, but then she says, “And I like being here with you.”

Jun says in turn that he liked seeing her smile today. Yeon-hee actually seems sad to hear him say that, and she wonders aloud—if she hadn’t been cursed, would they never have met?

Jun thinks back to their first meeting and everything they’ve been through up until now, and says wistfully, “We would’ve lived ordinary lives like we did today, and then we would’ve met in a very ordinary way—one day, we’d recognize each other while coming and going, and the ordinary days would come to shine. We’d keep wanting to see each other, and we’d smile when we met, and all the moments we had together would start to feel short. And we’d want to hold on to the time we had with each other, forever…”

He looks over at her and sees that she’s fallen asleep on his shoulder, and adds, “Like I do now.” Oh, swoon. He lifts a hand to her forehead to check her temperature, and looks alarmed at her condition.

As Hong-joo’s shaman army continues to hunt them down in the woods, Yo-gwang and Soon-deuk check Cheongbing Temple, just in case they’ve returned. Yo-gwang says that he wouldn’t normally bring just anyone here, but these are dire circumstances, and Soon-deuk just takes everything in, wide-eyed.

Jun and Yeon-hee head out while it’s still dark, and for about two seconds, they look like a happy pair of lovebirds on a midnight stroll. But Yeon-hee suddenly doubles over in pain while clenching her heart, and it’s at that moment that Hong-joo’s shamans happen to come upon them. Damn, I knew that wouldn’t last.

They run as fast as they can, but it’s not long before Jun and Yeon-hee are surrounded by shamans and royal guards. Jun pulls Yeon-hee behind him and draws his sword to fight them off. For being vastly outnumbered, he does a decent job of keeping them at bay.

But they continue to close in, and Jun and Yeon-hee start backing away. Yeon-hee’s eyes flash as she tries to ignite her powers, but it’s as if she doesn’t have the energy for a full blast, and the attempt actually weakens her more, making her curse tattoo flash red.

She collapses from the pain, and Jun’s concern for her is the perfect distraction for the shamans to get the upper hand with him, and they slash him with their swords, sending him tumbling backwards over the cliff’s edge. Ack, nooooo!

He falls down the massive cliff and lands in the river below as Yeon-hee screams his name. She cries helplessly as his limp body floats downriver, unable to do anything to save him.

It looks like it’s over for Yeon-hee too, with Hong-joo’s shamans surrounding her. But just then, the shaman army gets ambushed from behind, and Yeon-hee looks up to see Poong-yeon tearing through them swiftly with his sword. He picks her up and carries her away to safety.

By the time he puts Yeon-hee down in the cave, she’s passed out. She comes to and immediately scrambles up to go look for Jun, and Poong-yeon has to hold her back because the royal guards are still scouring the woods for her.

Yeon-hee doesn’t care about her safety when Jun is out there alone, and cries desperately for Poong-yeon to let her leave. Poong-yeon urges her to calm down and promises to go out and look for Jun.

He looks heartbroken to see Yeon-hee break down, crying, “Jun didn’t do anything wrong! It’s all my fault. It’s all because of me. Why Jun… Because of me… What if Jun dies?! He can’t! Please, he can’t! He can’t… please…”

Poong-yeon pats her quietly on the back as she cries, and then heads out to go look for Jun. All he finds is a boot that washed up in the river.

While she sleeps in the cave, Yeon-hee has a dream, in which she comes upon Jun in the woods. But when she calls out to him and approaches, he turns to look at her with a sad expression and walks away, and her vision blurs.

Back in the cave, Yeon-hee’s eyes open with a start, and they flash red. Uh-oh. The sky darkens and a bolt of lightning strikes down, and the next thing we know, Yeon-hee is marching right up to the palace gate. The guards draw their swords, but Yeon-hee doesn’t even break step as she sends them flying, her telekinetic powers back in full force.

The king is displeased to hear that Hong-joo lost Yeon-hee yet again. They’re interrupted by the queen dowager, who’s just gotten news of the king sending his army after the princess. The king says that there’s nothing to be done to save Yeon-hee, now that the people have seen her true form.

The queen dowager counters that she’ll make it public knowledge that the king suffered from an illness caused by black magic, that he used black magic to try and cure himself, and that he’s being controlled by a shaman. He challenges her to go ahead and say all of it, if she’s intent on destroying the royal family. Hong-joo points out the hypocrisy of the queen dowager suddenly caring so much about the princess, and asks if she isn’t just trying to keep her own sins hidden.

A gust of wind blows through the hall, making everyone uneasy. Lanterns shake and guards go tumbling into walls, and they stare agape as Yeon-hee marches right up to them and asks the king, “Does the sight of me scare you?” Her eyes flash red, and nobody looks more shocked than Hong-joo.

Outside the palace gates, Jun’s half-brother Ok is about to be transported when a group of henchmen jump the prison guards and help him escape. Oh is he still alive? We should put him in the cockroach category too.

After searching all night, Poong-yeon finally finds Jun lying on a rock in the river, looking bedraggled and barely alive. Jun asks after Yeon-hee first thing when he opens his eyes, and Poong-yeon assures him that she’s all right.

They hobble back to the safety of the cave, except now that he’s got Jun here, Poong-yeon discovers that Yeon-hee is gone. Gah, this is like that brain teaser where you have to cross the river a billion times just to get your shit together in one place without your wolf eating your goat or whatever.

Jun insists on going back out to search for Yeon-hee too, gaping stab wound and all. When Poong-yeon worries about his condition, Jun says that Yeon-hee is in worse shape than he is.

Poong-yeon explains that she lost her mind when she thought Jun had died, and Jun rightly deduces that she might’ve gone to the palace. He asks Poong-yeon to hurry there ahead of him. But as soon as Poong-yeon turns to leave, his body goes limp and he turns around to face Jun with a menacing glare, his eyes flashing white. Oh no…

In the palace, the king asks in terror if Yeon-hee is here to kill him, and she wonders matter-of-factly why not, when they’re all beside themselves trying to kill her.

The queen dowager tries to get through to Yeon-hee, but Yeon-hee just says bitterly that the queen dowager needn’t worry anymore, “Because Jun is dead. They killed him!” Her anger bubbles up and everything begins to rattle again.

Yeon-hee demands to know why she has to live or die according to their whims, and Hong-joo sees her chance and interjects: “You were born because of their selfishness and their greed! You were born to die.”

Hong-joo fans the flames, prodding Yeon-hee to question why she should risk her life to break her curse for their sake, when all they did was abandon her. Hong-joo says that’s what royals do—they use you and throw you away—just like they did to Yeon-hee’s real mother.

This is the first mention that Yeon-hee has ever heard of her biological mother, and the queen dowager freezes in horror. Hong-joo tells Yeon-hee the truth—that she was born out of Hong-joo’s black magic, used to move Yeon-hee and her twin brother out of the court lady who conceived them and into the queen dowager, who was barren.

Hong-joo makes sure not to leave out the best part: “And the queen dowager is the one who killed your biological mother.” Even the king looks horrified, and Yeon-hee looks over at the queen dowager with pained eyes.

Hong-joo eggs Yeon-hee on to give that curse right back to those who inflicted it upon her. But Yeon-hee turns to Hong-joo and replies coldly, “Shut up. That must be the revenge you want on the royal family. What does it have to do with me, whether or not you have a grudge? Why do I have to die for your revenge?!”

Yeon-hee’s eyes flash red again, and Hong-joo looks legitimately terrified. Yeon-hee asks why she has to be sacrificed for their greed, and Hong-joo starts seeing Yeon-hee’s biological mother Hae-ran in her place, screaming that they’re the ones who should die. Yeon-hee shakes her head and decides, “No, I don’t need anything anymore. Let’s all die together!”

With that, Yeon-hee/Hae-ran rushes at Hong-joo and grabs her by the throat, choking her violently.

Back in the cave, Jun sees that Poong-yeon is being affected by black magic and asks him to remember who he is. But Poong-yeon just glares and says he’s hated Jun ever since he first saw Jun with Yeon-hee. “If it weren’t for you, I’d be the one by Yeon-hee’s side right now,” Poong-yeon hisses.

Jun urges him to remember that he almost killed Yeon-hee the last time he succumbed to Hong-joo’s black magic. It’s no use though, as Poong-yeon continues to fixate on Jun being the source of all his problems, like he’s raring for a fight.

But Jun remains centered and reminds Poong-yeon that he’s let go of his heart already, and that he needs to fight off the black whispers that are trying to take over. With urgency, Jun pleads with him to think of what he wants to protect most in this world, and reminds him that Yeon-hee is in danger.

That seems to do the trick, and Poong-yeon’s eyes glow white again and he returns to his old self. Weakened by the black magic, Poong-yeon only has enough energy to tell Jun to hurry and save Yeon-hee, before he passes out.

At the palace, the queen dowager and the king try to intervene, but Yeon-hee knocks them both out with sharp looks.

With Hong-joo still firmly in her grasp, Yeon-hee cries, “I just wanted to live an ordinary life like other people! I wanted to live an ordinary life with that person. Is that so wrong? Why do the people I love have to die?!”

Her gaze turns murderous, and she squeezes tightly around Hong-joo’s neck…

Suddenly the air goes still, and Jun’s voice quietly calls out, “Yeon-hee-ya… don’t do it.” She drops Hong-joo instantly, who falls unconscious to the floor.

Stunned, Yeon-hee trembles as she turns around, and the second she lays eyes on Jun, tears spill out. He walks over to her slowly, a little unsteady on his feet, and she doesn’t breathe again until he’s right in front of her.

He just wraps his arms around her silently, and it’s only then that she looks like she believes he’s really here. Even as guards rush in and surround them with swords, they stand there in their own little world, holding onto each other tightly.

Poong-yeon wakes up in the cave and remembers what happened, and rushes out to find Yeon-hee.

But by now Yeon-hee is already locked up in a prison cell lined with talismans. The curse tattoo on her neck glows, and then it starts to spread, like a river of lava that’s branching off and growing.

Jun kneels before the king and says that this happened because Yeon-hee thought he was dead, but the king has no interest in their love story and only cares that Yeon-hee intended to kill him. Jun begs for Yeon-hee’s life and offers to go out there and heal all of the people suffering from the plague, to prove that she’s not the cause of it.

But the king is beside himself with the revelation that the princess, born of the main line of royal descent, is cursed. (Because it’s the perfect thing to undermine the main royal birth line, and legitimize his indirect line in the process.) The king says plainly that he doesn’t care whether Yeon-hee is the cause of the plague or not.

Jun sheds a tear and reminds the king that he wanted to be a good ruler, but this is avoiding responsibility out of fear. Jun cries for the king to look at his people’s suffering and find true solutions, but that makes the king snap, and he orders for Jun to be imprisoned too.

Poong-yeon barges into the prison to make sure that Yeon-hee is okay, and says with regret that he shouldn’t have left her alone. He tells her not to worry—he knows that running away isn’t what she wants, so he’s going to find his own way to protect her. He vows to make it so that they can’t do anything to her.

He can’t bring himself to speak this part out loud, but says to himself that he likes her very much. Why does this sound like goodbye? As he walks out, Sol-gae peeks out from around the corner.

Poong-yeon then takes out a small bottle and fights against the black magic inside himself as he tries to bring the bottle to his lips. Oh no, is it poison?

But before he can drink it, Hong-joo arrives and has him tied up in chains, and chides him for taking the cowardly way out. She whispers in his ear to just keep thinking of the pain of loving someone without getting anything in return, and the black magic takes over once again.

Ok wonders why the people seem so down, and hears that the princess’s curse is causing a plague. He thinks capturing her would be a good way to regain favor, that is, until he hears about her throwing people with just a look.

And then for some reason we repeat the scene from Episode 17, in which Hong-joo commands Hyun-seo to bring her the final page of the Mauigeumseo. Afterwards Hyun-seo goes straight to Yo-gwang at Cheongbing Temple and demands the last page of the Mauigeumseo, and sees right through Yo-gwang’s bluff that he burned it ages ago. Yo-gwang tells Soon-deuk to hide and manages to gain the upper hand, pulling his sword on Hyun-seo first.

Hyun-seo calls Yo-gwang useless and challenges him to go ahead and deliver the killing blow. Yo-gwang grips his sword tightly and raises it above his head, shaking so hard that it rattles. But he drops it at the last second, unable to kill his teacher.

It’s the moment Hyun-seo was waiting for, and he stealthily draws a dagger out of his sleeve and stabs Yo-gwang right in the gut. Hyun-seo takes the last page of the Mauigeumseo and coldly shakes off Yo-gwang’s attempts to remind him of his daughter Yeon-hee.

That night, the queen dowager receives word that Yeon-hee is to be burned at the stake tomorrow morning, and she grieves for her poor child.

Poong-yeon struggles against his chains and tries to use his firepower to break free, but the black magic continues to weaken him.

At the temple, Soon-deuk sits by Yo-gwang all night, trying to nurse him back to health.

And Jun sits in his prison cell, ineffectually yanking at his chains and wondering if this is really the end, and there’s nothing he can do for Yeon-hee.

At daybreak, Sol-gae fights Hong-joo’s shamans to get to Poong-yeon, and urges him to wake up and protect the person he cherishes. She says she no longer wants to see him living with regret.

But Hong-joo arrives with her army, and despite Sol-gae’s fighting skills, she’s no match for Hong-joo’s ruthlessness. When Sol-gae has been injured, Hong-joo grabs a sword and slices her clean through the middle, reminding Sol-gae that she’d warned her about love being her downfall.

Poong-yeon crumbles at the sight, and he remembers their first meeting, when he’d rescued Sol-gae as a child slave and offered to keep her fed if she wanted to follow him. Sol-gae sheds a final tear and says she’s sorry, and dies.

Poong-yeon’s grief overtakes him, and his rage allows the black magic to finally take control.

Yeon-hee is dragged from her cell and wheeled through town before arriving at the palace gates for her public execution. She’s thrown at Hong-joo’s feet, and shocked to see Poong-yeon looking so dead-eyed. He robotically takes his place for the fire ritual, and Yeon-hee realizes that he’s not going to save her.

They tie Yeon-hee to the stake and order the fire lit, and the resounding drum alerts everyone in the palace that she’s about to be burned. Jun hears the drum in the distance and gets up frantically in his cell; the king hangs his head; the queen dowager is frozen in shock.

Hong-joo nods, and Poong-yeon walks up to Yeon-hee and looks her right in the eye. But it’s not enough to break his trance, and he reaches his hands out, lighting the wood on fire beneath her. Nooooo! Hong-joo cracks a little smile, and Yeon-hee squirms as the flames rise up and close in on her.

 
COMMENTS

Ohmygoodness. Burned at the stake? This is where we’re ending the episode? Dastardly but smart, I’ll give them that. It’s certainly the best cliffhanger yet, and even though I don’t expect Yeon-hee to die in the fire (because we have two more episodes! She can’t!), the imagery is going to haunt me for a week, and right now I don’t see how she’s going to get herself out of this. Every good guy is either injured, jailed, or possessed by black magic, and I was pinning my hopes on Poong-yeon, but he just lit the girl he loves on fire. ON FIRE. It’s not like I was rooting for him to succeed with his noble idiocy plan of poisoning himself, but at this point I see why he thought to do it. Surely there will be one more chance for Poong-yeon to turn this around and make himself useful, right?

It was just really nice to get an episode that brought the focus back to Jun and Yeon-hee, because I find their love story to be surprisingly moving. It’s innocent, but it isn’t juvenile, and I genuinely appreciate the way their love has grown organically for their characters without feeling forced. It’s usually Jun who gets the big moving moments, like when he told Yeon-hee she was the same girl whether cursed or not, or in this episode when he imagined how they would’ve met under ordinary circumstances and been together forever, knowing full well that in real life Yeon-hee is slowly dying. Their earnest longing for a normal life together drives me crazy because it’s just so attainable, and yet so out of reach for them. It’s so little! Why can’t they have it?!

But it was Yeon-hee’s love that got the spotlight in this episode, which actually had me clapping in excitement. She’s usually on the receiving end—of all the love, the protection, even the hatred—which has often made her passive in the story (plotwise, not in personality). But when she thought they killed Jun, she unleashed a new kind of fury that was awesome to watch. I hadn’t realized until then how it had always been Jun confirming their love, but when she broke down in such agony at the thought that they’d taken him away, I felt so clearly how he meant everything to her, and it was gratifying to see that love in action.

Her reunion with Jun was lovely too, because they didn’t need any fanfare or dramatics—Yeon-hee’s despair at losing Jun had said it all—and I kind of loved how utterly simple it was for her to return to herself the second she knew he was alive. It was a nice callback to have Jun save her from murdering the person she hates too, the same way she pulled him back from the brink when he almost murdered Ok.

I’m just happy that the women in this drama are powerful, and that despite needing a lot of saving on a regular basis, Yeon-hee showed how strong and capable she is in her own right. She’s also the only person who actually scares Hong-joo, and I’d like to see the two of them facing off one-on-one more often, because that’s when the fireworks really go off. Truth be told, Yeon-hee is more interesting when she’s stripped of all her allies and forced to fight her own battles. For the sake of the story, I almost wish Yeon-hee had thought Jun were dead for longer than she did, though by then there might’ve been some dead bodies in her wake. It’s just… is it wrong to wish Jun had come just late enough to be rid of Hong-joo for good? I know, nothing says “I love you” like a vengeful bloodbath, right? There’s a flaw in that logic somewhere, but I can’t help but wish he’d run a little slower.

 
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Episode clear of Subway PPL.

Sageuks are safe.

For now.

😜

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And now a word from our sponsor:

"This episode brought to you by Flowery Goat Baduk Boards. The closer you get, the better we look..."

[With apologies (not) to Clairol Herbal Essence.]

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You had me at Flowery Goat... Ahhh, how I miss 2 Gods, 1 cheesy and the other is pouty, play baduk in the heaven. Gotta re-watch AATM now.

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"Eat at Bang-Wool's... Downhome Cookin' in Downtown Miryang... Home of the Pork Wrap."

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Come, let's enjoy it together PP.. ^^

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I didn't foresee Poong-yeon attempting to poison himself, so that still leaves one more method that I've been expecting all along.

Even though PY started the fire, is it real, or is it an illusion like the one Dear Old Dad pulled when Yeon-Hee was an infant? I've learned to distrust cliffhanger scenes... So often they are not what they appear. And Writer-nim is so darned good at strategic misdirection.

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That threw me for a curve, too. And right after he assured her that he wouldn't let anything bad happen to her. Or did he think that would do the trick? How could that even be true? Ahh, moment of despair, must be.

And regarding the setting on fire scene, I just wrote a comment along the same lines. Illusion? Like father, like son?

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And right after he assured her that he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her.

File it under "Famous Last Words."

To cut PY some badly-needed slack, I don't think he was expecting to be prevented from drinking the poison. To me he had a look of doomed determination when he spoke with Yeon-Hee and again before he was interrupted by Hong-Joo and her Flying Monkeys.

I figure that he figures that since his internal fire is the only thing that can kill Yeon-Hee, he has to incapacitate himself. Which I assume means permanently...

Re: Illusion? Like father, like son?

Great minds running in the same channel? Or -- Where have we seen this before?!

I'm wondering how the illusion spell (or whatever it is) works. At the temple, the Taoists saw illusions of what they feared, IIRC. But in the case of the illusion when Yeon-Hee was being barbecued as an infant, Hong-Joo was probably seeing what she wanted to see. -- Which is exactly what she does to her marks. She ensnares them with their own wishful thinking.

I have a feeling that Hong-Joo's wishful thinking is going to come back and bite her in the butt when she finally gets her mitts on the last page of the Book of Demon Banishment. I have a hunch that the talisman on that page is a poison pill...

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I'm hoping for something similar to what was done during Hyun Seo's first baby-burning time too, in saving Heon Yee from a fiery death at the stakes, at the very least. Although it has never been revealed how Hyun Seo did it the first time around, let's hope Poon Yeon has a work around that equally works.
Comparing his expression in the last scene to his earlier ones, it doesn't appear that Poon Yeon is acting under influence of the black magic when he started the spiritual fire. He looked sad, but without the grimace he sported when facing-off Joon in the cave or when Sol Gae was gutted before his very eyes. He looked sane in that last scene which makes me hopeful that he has some sort of a plan for saving Yeon Hee.

Or as already commented by a Beanie below, it can rain. Big, fat and furious drops of rain ferocious enough to put out even spiritual fires. :-P

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That's a good observation! PY did not look as evil as he looked when he was possessed by black magic at the cave. If he is up to some trick, that would be great. I really want for him to overcome his weaknesses and be a better man. After seeing some hints of a more mature PY in the last episodes, I am falling a bit for him :) ...Anyway, it's him or the rain, so I put my money on orabeoni :D

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In another universe, another time, where Subway rules sublime, this would be retitled: Mayo of the Witch

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Or Double Witch Overload
Cheesy Staked Witch
Lol!

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ROLF!
Touche!

Can I get a FishWitch? Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce...

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I've always felt that there is a Hanwoo (Korean beef) PPL in this drama.

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I love it when Yeonhee asked why the King thought she couldn't kill him. I know he's not a bad person, he's just a very insecure and paranoid dude who's stuck in a job he didn't want in the first place, but I just want him to be scared and humiliated. Heck, I cared about his skin problems just a few weeks ago, but now I just want to send him flying. The more he flexes his power, the more I want to show him that there are supernatural forces that can overpower HIS power. In other words: "Your power sucks. Use reasons if you have any."

I totally enjoyed Yeonhee's murderous rage. If I had only a few days left to live, I'd unleash my telekinetic power all I can. Coercion isn't the best, but how else would you get a coward and thickheaded King to cooperate? I mean, learn from Hong Joo!

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More on the King: His dishonesty and paranoia were said to escalate due to black magic, but me thinks he's not very much more rational post-black magic. If anything, he's still looking for lazy ways to cover up the problems because he never thinks he's responsible or capable of finding a solution. Cowardice is just a part of his character. Before, he put up with having a fake Red Cloak to stop the chaos. I wonder whether he thought the real Red Cloak couldn't kill again. Now he's using Yeonhee as a scapegoat to ease the people's discontent. But really, what if killing her doesn't stop the plague, huh?

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So true. Like you, there's so much I don't understand about his thinking.

All he would have to do is out Hong Joo to the public for being a black magic witch who's at the source of all the problems. And he can continue to blame the problems on her if they don't resolve.

But no, he chooses to use her as an ally. Again. Because it's good decision making to repeat the same choices and expect different results?

So if he kills his sister and the problems don't go away, the public animosity toward him will grow because he's murdered his family member. And if Hong Joo uses that to unseat him from the throne - which she's plainly TOLD HIM she intends to do - he's just killed the only one powerful enough to stop her.

Add to this, he's never bothered to take away her private army of girl-bots and seems completely unaware of her demonically possessed soul-mate.

He makes no sense.

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I find his actions frustrating because they hurt the characters we've grown to love, but if I were him, having been under attack from basically all sides since being crowned, I'd also have a hard time knowing who to support. Granted, he should know better than to fall into the shaman's schemes again, but the Princess is the daughter of the Queen Dowager, who has always threatened his position, and he's known of her existence (which poses a threat to his throne) only for a few weeks, and witnessed her power. He does not know her motivations like we do. All he sees is a witch that can send people flying in all directions without batting an eyelash. I'd be pooping my pants, too. From his perspective, would the Princess be less of a threat than the shaman?
If I were the poor guy, I'd have committed suicide a long time ago. He's got no one.

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I love how the characters have reasons I can understand that drive them up to this point. Can't wait for the finale. Great recap as usual. 😁

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The actress playing Hong Joo continues to blow me away. Her characterization works on all levels, and it couldn't have been easy to decide on it early on and still have the same traits play so well now that we're in crazy-mastermind-cockroach territory, but it all WORKS.

More and more I see Hong Joo as a woman born with a sociopathic worldview and an unbelievable gift for manipulation, but also an incredible ability not to be an all-controlling mastermind. It's like she's herding people rather than controlling them (with the exception of Taoist masters). She makes her best guess based on their personality and motivators, places a few poisoned words in their ears, points them in the right direction and then gives a push. But then she might genuinely not interfere with that person for weeks or months, just letting them putter along in the general direction she wants them going, letting them move under their own self-motivated steam. If someone goes too far off track, she pops up and gently (through magic, words or manipulation) gets them back in the direction she wants them moving.

But at the same time Hong Joo is never completely sure that this is going to work, and then controlled tension in the actress is amazing. It's like she's barely a participant and is just watching the dominoes. She gives the impression that Hong Joo has contingencies for almost every plan, that she partly expects most of her plans to fail, and she's even somewhat prepared to die herself. She's launched a thousand fire ships with the hopes that just one will make landfall.

Occasionally it drives me crazy that Hong Joo keeps coming out on top, but the actress is really earning that credibility that in this universe, that could actually just be how things unfold. Amazing.

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Great description of HJ and her MO.

It’s like she’s herding people rather than controlling them (with the exception of Taoist masters).

She's the original border collie from Hell, herding her sheeple with her baleful eye.

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THIS.

Nominated for Beans for Thoughts, thank you very much.

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Totally love and agree with what you said!! *clap clap* All the gentle nudges and explicit black magic combined make HJ such an amazing character and villain. She always does just enough to prode those whom she manipulates in the right direction. And even if those people know better than to trust her, they can't help following her ways.

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*slaps monies on the table* ....

I bet it rains.

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Hahaha this totally made me laugh! The heavens have indeed sent forth the rain!!

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Pfffftthahahaha

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I bet it rains.
As I watched the ending cliffhanger scene of fire surrounding Yeon-hee at the stake, that's exactly what I was thought might possibly happen next.

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LOL

I hope it'll rain hard, to send sign to people and baddies that heavens protect the innocent.. ^^

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Great call!

In the manner of SPLISH SPLASH LOVE, it'll not only put the fire out, it'll break the drought, too. Then the citizenry will have one less thing to complain about.

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Yes I hope Heaven brings on a monsoon!

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Didn't think of that, but that would be awesome. I was thinking more along the lines of surviving the fire the same way she did as a baby, which was not revealed before for a reason.

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So next time California's drought gets bad, I should tie someone up and reach for some matches ??

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Not just any someone. It has to be a kpop star. Or any kid who changes from platinum blond to brunette and back within a couple of days.

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Thanks for the recap, girlfriday!

Dang it, Yo-Gwang gets skewered again... I hope he doesn't end up needing another talismanic bandaid. OTOH, Soon-Deuk might now have a legitimate wish. One candle down, four to go?

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I feel like Soon-Deuk might be a candle, but even in this context (dying Yo-Gwang), I don't see what her potion might be though.

Because usually the wish-maker and potion drinker are the same, right? Even if she found Yo-Gwang some healing potion, how would that light "her" candle?

Although maybe what Yo-Gwang needs is a potion for level-headedness. So that he can finally steel his nerves and kill Hyun-Seo (good for YH, and merciful for HS). Since that's his one major flaw, and I'm sure he regrets how his weakness endangered everybody, it might be a strong enough wish to light a candle?

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I thought HyunSeo cannot be killed since he and HongJoo share the same fate. Thus, HongJoo will die if he dies and YeonHee will not be able to transfer the curse back to her?

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I think if Hong Joo dies, Hyun Seo will definitely die because he's dependent on her spell. But Hyun Seo's death might just make her cough out blood rather than actually killing her. From past episodes, it seems like newly lit candles only injure her briefly rather than weaken her completely.

And speaking of coughing out blood... I wish we revisited her writhing and the team's short-lived triumph at the start of the episode.

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Oh Sol-gae... why is being warrior girl with a secret crush always a death sentence?

Jun's speech about a simple alternate universe was so sweet. At this point, they've both gone through so much shite that that a simple boring life is just heaven for them.

(GF, that wolf-goat puzzle comment made me LOL!)

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'Gah, this is like that brain teaser where you have to cross the river a billion times just to get your shit together in one place without your wolf eating your goat or whatever.'

I'm sorry, I know this is out of context of the recap, but I have to agree - this analogy made my day!

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What a wonderful episode ! So many feels! Mirror of the witch, what are u doing to me ? What will I do without you? *cries of despair* anyway I gave up on the King as a character, the scene where Jun asks the king to save Yeon hee and you can see in Jun's eyes how disappointed he is in the king was a really powerful scene ! I was Like Jun I am disappointed too! Me too lol
Guys I have this crazy theory, that Jun will be a famous doctor (like in reality ) doing potions over and over to help poeple bcz he couldn t save Yeon hui and its his way to try to Light the rest of the candles to make Yeon hui come back,I ship Jun and Yeon hee so much! When she thinks he s dead and she admits she wanted to spend a normal life with him *-*

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Such a great recap!! I absolutely love this show! Everything said about Yeon-hee and Jun so right on point! And Yoon Shi-yoon is just killing it as Jun. Every look and expression he gives is magic, pure magic!!! Gah!!

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The piggyback made me laugh. Yeon Hui doesn't really want to, but when Joon gives her hand a gentle tug it's like she didn't quite realize her legs weren't working anymore and oops, now she's fallen on top of him without real intent. She just seemed nonplussed about that entire sequence.

"No, it's okay, I'm fi - oof. Uh, maybe not then. Thanks."

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Wow, this episode...

That description of Hong Joo and her evil sheep-herding ways was good @Miranda. Reminds me of the stark contrast it is to the Good Shepherd. I can hear her now...Yes, my precious! Come along, come along, this way...that's right..just a bit further... The push she gives only comes to shove through the victims' own carnal tendencies.

Hooray, Yeon Hee, for so royally coming undone. Has anyone noticed, though, that choking, even by a witch, takes too long to kill? There are much faster ways to take someone out. Unless she just wants to torture and can't/won't kill, as we've been informed. Dang.

Poong Yeon's mourning over the death of warrior girl was so intense that I wonder if he loved her more than he does Yeon Hee. And as for his setting Yeon Hee on holy fire, I don't think it'll happen. I mean, we see the flames, but didn't we see the flames when her dad first supposedly set baby Yeon Hee on fire? Can he make it seem like an illusion? But everyone's watching here, so maybe not.

Oh how I wish that it would rain...

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Haha, we both came to the same guesses about how YH will escape!

I was also quite surprised by his emotions at Sol Gae's death too. Maybe he did love her more than YH, but he never realised that because his head just giving him the narrative that YH's his most important person?

I felt really really disappointed that he seemed so angry and ready to overcome the chains (and black magic), then suddenly lapsed back. Argh!

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Re: PY's apparent capitulation

The poor dude has had a disgusting black magic chest wound festering since Hong-Ju slashed him with the Short Black Sword, and it plays havoc with his energy levels.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he hasn't actually gone over to the Dark Side, and has merely had a temporary energy drop.

*crosses fingers, whistles "Dixie"*

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I decided to not watch this episode and just read the recap cuz the preview just made me depressed.😢 I'm really scared that we're not going to have a happy ending much like gu family book. Ah! No more curses! I really hope we get a happy ending and more OTP moments. 😭

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Omg the recaps are coming so fast and furious now. Thank you, girlfriday!

I feel like this episode wasn't as well thought as previous ones.

The loooong flashback at the start - the dialogue between Hong Joo and the king - seemed a bit of a time-waster that doesn't add very much value. And the return to the scene where Hong Joo demands the final page of the book is also jarring.

And that concerete path (just before Jun was shot off the cliff) seem too modern to fit the times! Plus, they're supposed to be on the run, so I'd presume they were in the mountains/forest, and a man-made path would be unlikely, no?

I've never been much of a fan of Heo Ok, but the way the plot ties him in has generally been reasonable. But his escape here seems a bit too jarring. Plus, does this palace have the lousiest defense system in all sageuk shows or what? I can give show a pass when skilled people like PY and Sol Gae, or even magicked Yo-Gwang, can sneak past guards. But a bumbling fool rescued another bumbling fool? That's a bit of a stretch of imagination.

I must say, I love the editing for the scene where YH is trying to kill Hong Joo. The way it kept changing from Hae Ran to YH was pretty fascinating. And boy, KSR is really putting her acting chops to full force! She looked completely despondent with loss even in her rage.

Does the spreading of the curse on her neck signify a deepending relationship between YH and Heo Jun? Or another indication of her numbered days?

I'm also pretty angry about Sol Gae's death. I'd thought she'd live, at least until the end as a candle-lighting sacrifice. Argh. Or maybe it's the fact that we were robbed of a proper back story on how she became tied to Hong Joo. PY's flashback is actually confusing. Since Hong Joo admitted to planting Sol Gae next to Poong Yeon, I'd expected her to be more guarded or putting up a pretense when she first met PY. But young Sol Gae seemed fairly innocent and still somewhat feisty (without adult Sol Gae's melancholy), almost like she had no agenda beyond filling her hunger. So then when did Sol Gae get recruited?

If it's afterwards, why would someone who already feels indebted to her good-looking and compassionate saviour (PY) get so thorougly lured by Hong Joo that she would willingly carry out cruel, cold-blooded murders? How does this timeline work?

I suppose the only way I could breathe easy with the cliffhanger ending is that YH can't die yet... I almost wondered if PY is doing a Hyun Seo with fake fire, but YH seemed to be squirming for real. (And why didn't she call out "orabeoni" to try and shake him out of the spell?)

But if it turns out that she's saved because the heavens poured down (or is the internal fire exempt?), it'll be a bit of a downer. Zzzz.

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+1

It is kinda disturbing how people can come into the palace and see the king easily... Where are the guards? Eunuchs? Court ladies? Ministers??

About Sol Gae... Maybe she was separated from PY after he saved him for years? And maybe that was when HJ recruited her...

For someone who almost died, isn't it amazing that Jun can go to the palace just in time to stop Yeon-Hee?? How did he get there so quickly?? Did he borrow Varys's teleportation machine?? :)

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Haha yes! Plus he should have been somewhere in the forest/mountains so he shouldn't have been able to go over in 5 minutes! I'm just gonna chalk it up to bad editing d=

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lmao it seems Varys's teleportation machine has extended over to kdrama land as well 😂😂

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I didn't notice the concrete path. Looks like the continuity/ believability person wasn't doing their job.

I laughed at the bumbling fools rescuing the bumbling fool. But of course, they had no problem dealing with the bumbling fools that call themselves the palace security.

I wonder if the writer had figured Sol Gae's backstory all along or just whipped it up now. Can't help but wonder how many changes or additions had to be made because of the extension to 20 episodes.

Perhaps Yeon Hee didn't call out to orabeoni because she knows his plan to not burn her for real? He looked neither possessed by evil nor mortified that he's killing his beloved at the time. Something is up.

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Yeah, I really hope PY has a plan. Can't wait till this weekend! I used to feel quite sad that the show is ending, but I guess the endless excitement has me somewhat worn out (and worried about deliberate time-wasting plot lines) and I'd rather this wrap up on a high note.

I can't remember where exactly, but there was a thread somewhere on db that the show wasn't actually extended. The length was just wrongly reported everywhere initially... I think that might explain why I couldn't find much news about show extensions.

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if i recall correctly it was all planned that she approach him(or that he rescue her from that place) from the beginning, because when he found out that she was the red robe he did ask her whether it was from the start and she did confirm. Afterwards he told the witch that she was a frightening person.

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Yep, Sol Gae did say that, and so did Hong Joo. It's just that Sol Gae looked a bit too innocent in this flashback to seem like she had a hidden agenda when she met him.

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It wasn't a concrete path on a mountain road. If you watch the scene again, they climbed down a stone walled path/steps before reaching an "improved" road -- a packed earth road similar to what you'd find in town. Look at the far right edge of the road -- there are trees growing out of the path, with no "concrete edge" in sight. Packed earth roads have been common for thousands of years.

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I just checked it again and I've put up a (excuse it's not very high res) screenshot here: http://imgur.com/O6EiE9m

I get what you mean about the trees growing out on the right. But it looks slightly too flat and too defined on the left side (near the steps and drain) to seem like just packed earth to me.

Also, if that were in the village I wouldn't be so surprised but it's a bit strange to see that in the mountains/forest.

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Thank you! I've been avoiding the message board because my take on this show has been so at odds with everyone else. For me it's been several episodes since the show stopped making sense.

All the plot advancement has been happening due to:

stupidity - Like, let's all trust Hong Joo just one more time; or, let's just stand still and get arrested instead of using super powers and escaping; or, let's not kill my thoroughly demonically possessed master - even though he TOLD me to - and instead I'll just drop my sword and stand defenseless while his eyes are GLOWING; or, let's not use fire to melt the chains that are holding me against my will.)

or coincidence (like this episode when the fem-bots arrive just as he's about to drink the poison and they just happen to have super heavy chains with them, etc, etc, etc ).

The only thing that bails this out are the show delivering twists that are interesting/satisfying enough to justify forgiveness for its prior sloppiness.

But even more than that, I've been feeling cheated by the shown because there's far to little Yoon Shi Yoon in it. It was nice to see more of him in this episode. But most of his screen time was done in flashbacks with a voiceover. Or in scenes likely shot a long time ago, and where he had little dialogue.

It's a shame. YSY accepts a role for his army comeback drama, as a lead in a romanic fantasy sageuk. It's a chance for him to break from his former 'flower boy' image and launch a more mature masculine image that'll extend the life of his acting career. Then they give him a 15 year old co star. Then they put him in a gisaeng costume for a few gratuitous scenes. Then they make his character largely irrelevant to the show. And now they've seemingly stopped filming him except in needless "comical" encounters with the Taoist. So instead of a robust central character, he just gets pimped in marginal innuendo-laden scenes that have no connection to the central storyline. I don't want to go all CITT about this, but it's just not right to do that to an actor.

Ok, rant over. I feel better now. :-)

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Gah. Auto"correct".

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"The only thing that bails this out are the show delivering twists that are interesting/satisfying enough to justify forgiveness for its prior sloppiness."

Good point on that. I think the twists - and the nuanced acting - is what keeps me interested. I like that most of the main (often antagonist) cast - Hong Joo, Queen Shim, the king - are nuanced enough to make their actions relatable, even if they can be hateful at times.

Now that I think of it, I think the two leads are great actors but their characters are a little too "good" and the complex villains keep the show real.

As for YSY... I'd like to see more of his future-physician bits, and more screen time with YH too! But that ending in episode 17, where his slight change of expression showed that he wasn't 'taken over' by the black magic, definitely impressed!

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..But it was Yeon-hee’s love that got the spotlight in this episode..

My heart was wrenched and i got weepy when I watch the scene where her wrath made the palace shook and when she strangled HJ and told her to die. Another stellar performance of KSR.

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Grrrr. This drama is making me frustrated. I do really like parts of it, like Yeon-Hee and Jun and the dowager queen. I am willing to suspend my disbelief since this is about a witch after all. However, there are a few things that making me clench my teeth in chagrin. Here they are:

How is it that Sol-Gae is still alive and wondering around free? Her head should've been chopped off for all the crimes she committed. Perhaps I missed something, but I do not understand how this person could just be roaming free like nothing happened.

How many guards does Hong Joo have and well why aren't they dead too? After all everyone knows Hong Joo is bad news, why wouldn't the king or whoever try to humble her by stripping her of the people protecting her and at the same time destroy her lairs.

Choi Hyun Seo should also be dead, they all know he is possessed and acting all evil. I getthat people fill sentimental about him and want to try to save him. But it has been kinda boring and silly to watch him doing Hong Joo's bidding.

As for Poong Yeon, what a creepo. Maybe this is a cultural thing or subtitle issue I am missing out on, but he is into his little sister a bit too much. I get that they aren't related, but Yeon Hee has pretty much demonstrated time and time again that she views him as her older brother, not as a love interest. I think he is pretty much beyond redemption though I won't be surprised if he sacrifices himself.

I also find it silly how people can just stroll about the palace and leave evil urns full of black magic in the rooms of the royalty. I think they should've caught onto this trick a long time ago and put some talismans up to protect themselves.

This drama probably should've been 16 episodes, not twenty. I really felt that the story should've ended shortly after Hong Joo's blade was destroyed. I am glad there are only two more episodes to go. Anyways late night comment session over. Hope it makes sense. But I feel better.

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I agree with you this should be 16 episodes. I love mirror of the witch from the start, and I love YSY (much!), but I get bored when the evil person get to do evil repeatedly over and over.

And I got confused about Choi Hyun Seo story line, didn't they break the black magic (burn the knife) in order to make the connection between him and Hong Joo dissapear?

*btw, Sol-Gae was freed by Poong Yeon in previous episode.

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You're right I forgot that Sol gae was freed. Still they should've been quicker in lopping her head off. Haha.

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Sol Gae was freed, yes, but I guess we didn't need to see/hear explanations to the king re: this? The king had been so eager to catch the culprit and calm the fear instilled in the people because of these horrendous murders.

I also found it hard to believe she was capable of those gruesome murders, seeing that she not only killed them, but removed their hearts. Acckkk! I mean, she's tough, but I saw some sweetness there. I guess once evil takes hold...

So I think Sol Gae got off really easy. But then again, there are many getting off too easily in this show, particularly a certain evil serpent named Hong Joo.

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I totally agree with your points.
I am also got so frustrated with "good" heroes that cannot help to be happy when at least some of them dye, like Sol-Gae or Yo-gwang in this episode.
It serves Yo-gwang right for refusing to kill Hyun-seo!!
I just hope that Poong-yeon will also end up dead!
He frustrated me all the time, but now I still don't understand why he burned Yeon Hee?

And now we are waiting for completely illogical and improbably way out that writers are prepared for us (((
(I like Yeon Hee - but in the least if she would end burned up it would be unexpected ending)

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There are 5 unlit candles left. Wondering whose wishes will light these?

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Maybe 5 viewers who are glad its finally almost over :)

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Bahahahahahaha.

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It's gonna rain. Please tell me it's gonna rain!!! After watching the cliffhanger, I imagined Yoo Seung Ho's Jade Emperor from Arang and the Magistrate sending a huge downpour so it'll put out the fire for some reason lol. Blame my overactive imagination. Ahh this drama is gonna be the death of me. I don't know how I'm gonna make it until next week 😭😭😭

Thanks for the speedy recaps this week JB and GF! I was pleasantly surprised and so excited since as soon as I finish the episodes, I just want to rant/fangirl with everyone in the comments section. 😄 I can't wait until next week but also dreading it since I'm gonna have nothing to look forward to 😢 This drama has been amazing and hopefully it'll end happily with our OTP getting married and living the simple life that they so want and deserve.

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Ah.. this episode is so much better.

Honestly I was getting a bit frustrated with how Hong-joo keeps getting back up and wishing that this is a 16-eps length show instead of draggy 20.

There are still lots of unanswered questions that I hope the show will explain though, like how did Yeon-hee survive the first fire when she's a baby.. and how did Sol-gae follow Hong-joo.
Anyway, glad that there's only one week left, finally we can see the end of this never-ending curse cycle.

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Sigh, I was so addicted to this show the first 10-12 episodes or so but now I'm only still watching to see how it ends and even caught myself fast forwarding no speaking scenes (which are suspenseful but I have no patience anymore) and I usually never ever do this.

I'm glad so many people are still enjoying the drama but I got so frustrated by all this running in circles that although this episode was a lot better storywise it's almost too late to draw me back in and I'm rather looking forward to the end of it.

I would've preferred to focus more on the candle lighting and seeing Yeon-hee being more proactive in the whole plot (thus why I enjoyed her causing havoc this episode more than anything lol) and a lot less Hong-joo and her manipulations even though the actress is doing a hell of a job.

Anyway, time to wrap up and I curse you dramaland for making way too long shows.

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Thank you Girlfriday for the recap.
What a great episode! Tension filled, made me cry and scream!

Poong-yeon was really creepy when the black magic started affecting him and his eyes turned white! His glare, his crazy eyes at Jun really scared the hell out of me! He kind of reminded me of Gollum when he wanted to attack someone with the precious ring! The scene was so well done, the cave, the hissing, the background music, everything was giving a chilly feel and this was the first time I was actually scared watching this drama.

I was so excited when Yeon-hee barged in the castle sending those guards flying and walking up straight to the king. The idea that the only person she truly loved was gone because of him and Hong-joo was saddening and angering. She was so determined to kill them, not caring if she died herself but the moment she heard Jun's voice and turned to see him, she was broken and vulnerable. Kim Sae Ron did an amazing job. Clap clap clap!

I'm so thrilled for the finale week but have no idea when I'll be able to watch the episodes, will be so busy with throwing bridal showers and stuff, wish me luck beanies LOL!

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anyone knows the instrumental bgm that appears very frequently in motw? the one with cymbals

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oh my god!!!
how can i wait another week for the finale?
this show is really great, the characters are all good, what can i ask for? of course, a happy ending for jun and yeon hee! please, let them be happy! :)

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You know, I kind of expect Sol Gae to some how come back to life and save Yeon-Hee because if I've learned anything from this drama is that the writers must have LOVED the princess bride because all of their characters are only "mostly dead". I mean, even if somehow Yeon-Hee does burn at the stake, I'm totally convinced that she won't actually die but only be "mostly dead" because she has "true love". Love..... true love.

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"Mostly dead" LOL

Yes, I would put it that way. Stabbed near the heart more than once, fell off cliffs more than once, nearly drowned, but not to worry! They are only "mostly dead."

Princess Bride-esque, yup. Love...tuwuu love.

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Thank you for the recap.
It was an exciting episode and while i'm not worried about the cliffhanger ( i don't expect Yeon Hee to die since we still have 2 eps left) i am puzzled by something.
Poong Yeon looked like he was still possessed by black magic but what if his motivation changed? If instead of being driven by his desire to have Yeon Hee back, he is now more interested in getting revenge on Hong Joo for Sol Gae's death, would we see a new master manipulator battling and probably outsmarting the old one?
If Joon dies as the sacrifice for the last candle, Yeon Hee is free of the curse and Hong Joo dies it benefits him on all sides - his rival dead, Yeon Hee without the scary magic side and his revenge on Hong Joo complete...or maybe my logic is a little too twisted by the whole manipulation going on in this show :)

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What is up with the recapping system right now? It seems like you have more recappers than ever and yet you still have to pick-and-switch recappers to make up for absences. Can someone explain for me?

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Teamwork!

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Finally, an episode that made sense! Gotta be honest, I didn't pay close attention to the last 5-6 episodes because it was just frustrating watching writer inject fillers to build up to this episode.

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Wait! Can someone please tell me why must Yeon Hee be killed at this point in time?

In the beginning, Yeon Hee had to be killed to banish forever the curse that both she and the Crown Prince bore, that they'll die on their 17th birthday, or if they somehow continue to live after that day, all those whom they love or those who love them, will die. The reason to kill her then was to keep alive the Crown Prince, preserving the direct Royal lineage. That reasoning has ceased to exist since the the Dowager Queen's smashing of the urn containing the Crown Prince's spirit. So, why the continuing attempts to kill her?

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There's a plague in the city (just a normal disease, I bet). Hong-joo used it to spread rumors that the princess is a cursed witch. Then when she orchestrated the attack on Jun in public to force Yeon-hee to show her powers, the people assumed that the rumors were true about Yeon-hee being the cause of the plague.

The King knows it isn't true but he wants to pretend to be doing something for the people. And, I think, there's some power play involved because Yeon-hee as the Dowager's daughter has more royal blood than the current king. (That's before it's revealed to everyone that YH is just a transplanted baby.)

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Because she still is cursed and now people started to believe all bad things that have fallen on Joseon like the drought and plague are because of her!

the king wants her dead so people will think highly of him, he doesn't want people to point fingers at him and badmouth him, he wants to be acknowledged and if Yeon-hee's death gonna bring him that he'll do it.

As for Hong-joo, I think if Yeon-hee successfully lights up all the candles and breaks the curse, Hong-joo will die, I'm not sure if this was mentioned in the drama but I think that way, because she is working hard trying to get rid of Yeon-hee like her life depends on it!

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Ha ha...now I feel stupid!

I've forgotten that every time Yeon Hee successfully lights the candles, it impacts Hong Joo negatively. She'll either spit blood or in the King's case, thorns-in-the-body transfers to her. She also likely knows that if Yeon Hee succeeds in lighting all the candles, the curse will revert to her, thus her unceasing efforts in trying to off Yeon Hee.

I've answered my own question, thanks to your prompts guys @azzo @mary! :-P

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Should have been 16 episodes ... just sayn ...

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Me too.

Now they're stretching the episodes just to make an 20 episode drama. No wonder the plot no longer makes sense!

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I don't get why people in the show think Hong Joo can only be dead or alive. If she's not supposed to die yet, there's a whole continuum of pain that can be inflicted on her between the two states, just to prevent her from pulling off nasty shit. It's sageuk, there's no such thing as human rights.

1. Cut her tongue off - Her #1 method of shit-stirring. Do that and remove 90% of the drama's conflicts resulting from her.

2. Bash her teeth out.

3. Progressively remove all her finger/toenails.

4. Gouge her eyes out.

5. Progressively chop off small segments of her by the joint eg a third of a finger/toe each time. Cauterize and treat the wound each time. Keep her well away from death.

This should be too distracting for her to try anything funny. If they pace themselves well, by the time they run out of body parts to sever, it would either be too late to save Yeon Hee or she would have removed the curse. By which time, it wouldn't matter if Hong Joo dies.

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i'm just rly curious to see who the last 5 candles are (within the span of two episodes?????)

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Hey guys, I see everyone have their bets for the stake outcome...we should organize a pool. Would it be possible to add it here, @Girlfriday?? That might be fun :)
Thanks a lot for the awesome recap, by the way :D

Well, I liked this episode a lot as always, but I have to admit that at this point I am mostly anticipating what's coming next week. It has been like forever that our heroes have done very little in order to end the curse and the candles issue is making me anxious. Because, as much as Hong Joo's machinations are a delight to watch and she manages to keep me on my toes, I am here to watch how the hell they are going to get rid of her and I do not want it to happen just coincidentally five minutes before the ending of the series. I want team Cursed to be bold, proactive and outsmart the evil witch. So, more action next week, please :)

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Fun to watch, but predictable.

I mean, does anyone worry any more when a wounded good-guy falls/jumps into a river?? It's like, who need fancy expensive modern stuff like hospitals and insurance policies when there's a Korean river handy?

And, did anyone actually think Sol-gae was going to live to the end of the series? Being bad, getting blood on your hands, then repenting and trying to do good is more fatal than being bad and never repenting. As soon as she turned out to be Red Robe (Little Red Riding Robe??) she was toast..... Unlike bad brother Ok, who is safe because the only people who have reason to hate him are the kind of people who don't run around killing people, at least not in Kdramas.

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Right now I am wishing that MotW was only 16 episodes because they have entirely too much time on their hands. And they seem to be focusing too much on Hong Joo. Let's light these candles people!

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FINALLLLLLLYYY *___*

a protagonist who out right says, "WHY YOU TRYNA KILL ME!?"

it felt SO good seeing her angry. & rightfully so.

whoohoo! go YH! somehow survive the fire! (is there a potion to make it rain? LOL)

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Why does Poong Yeong not just set himself up on fire with his holy fire? Then won't even need to worry about the black magic taking over..

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It's almost feels as there's a different writer from episode 17 onwards ...

16 ended on the good side wining with the destruction of Hong Joo's knife that contains the black magic. That was supposed to be the end of black magic but we see in 17 the black smoke used to harm the Queen's baby & Hyun Seo still controlled by Hong joo.

The Dowager Queen loses her calm & poorly plans a public praying session. Yon hee suddenly can't control herself & displays her power for the public to see? The lack of security at the praying session where the senior royal families attend without any members of parliament?

Sol gae who's got kick as fighting powers that Yigwang can't compete with gets knifed in her gut by Hong Joo who can't fight?

There's just no consistency in the characters...

Hopefully Yon Hee would be saved by the heavens with heavy rain but that would be to easy right? Cos then everyone thinks she's God & prays for good health so she makes a potion. Viola a saved life = a lite candle...she's going to light more than 5 candles that way! & Heo Jun doesn't become the miracle doctor?

Or maybe the fire is meant to fake her death so we can continue with the story of her lighting those 5 candles! Am curious to know who else beside's Heo Jun those wishes belong too.

BTW, isn't this King the same King in the Face Reader where Seo In Gook plays the Crown Prince & rules in place of his father who runs of to hide while Joseon was at war? IIRC that King only had a son from his Queen much much later...

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Yes! I couldn't put a finger as to why I was so dissatisfied with Sol Gae's dying scene. Granted, PY wept quite pitifully but something about the way she was killed felt too sudden and abrupt. I think you've explained it very well!

And the editing just became very jarring. A lot of skips and confusing timeline - for instance, I don't think we really needed a repeat of the previous episode's scene where Hong Joo commanded Hyun Seo to get the last page.

I kinda wonder if they're running low on footage and repeating certain things to extend the story...

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Why is it named Mirror of the Witch? Who does Witch refer to? Hong Joo? Yeon-hee? Is it a figurative mirror that reflects the ills of society and power? Why is the plot in lather, rinse and repeat mode? Is Heo Ok inadvertently going to save the day?

Please let the last two episodes be good!

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Ick, no to Ok! The only use I need for him is to be the human fuse for when we burn Hong-joo down.

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Why the show's named Mirror of The Witch was discussed in the recap for ep 17. Do have a look. JB posted that it's prolly a word play on the title of the book written by the historical Joon, a Joseon royal physican, Mirror of Eastern Medicine. :-)

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...I meant comment thread for ep 17. Sawry...

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Thank you!

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thank you for the recaps!

still invested on this show, even though it's showing signs of uneven writing or editing (as GF pointed out with the scene repeated). i just hope the ending would be as good as the beginning of the show:)

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Thanks for the awesome recap, GF! LOLed at the wolf-goat brain teaser.

Yes! Finally more Jun-YH moments again!! I love how you captured the essence of this ep with the focus on YH's love for Jun. Their escape scenes were so cute and I wish so much that they could just live their normal, ordinary lives together!! Fiery YH is sooo sooo good and I love how freaked out HJ got when she saw YH in such an angered state. I also like what you highlighted about Jun holding her back this time, the way she did for him when he dealt with Ok. These two have been through so much and I just want them to have a break!

So sad to see SG dying at the hands of HJ. But that also gave us a glimpse that perhaps she is the one that PY truly loves and not YH. That anger, that grief... Wow! It felt like he would crush HJ if he wasn't bound by those chains.

The King is getting annoying. I thought he would've trusted Jun better by now and given him a chance to heal his people so that he can be a good king. Then, he can accept his responsibilities instead of finding scapegoats, and Jun can show his physician skills. (Are they not planning to link to him being a royal physician at all in this series??? *scratches head*)

I also chuckled at how fast Jun made it to the palace. Just one of those belief-suspending moments along with some other things that have been ongoing in this show. XD

Let's get those last 5 candles lit!! And I'm sure YH will be just fine so we can wrap up the last two eps.

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I was wary of this pairing since the beginning but now all I want is for them to be together. Like hello?! Aren't the two of them supposed to be the lead characters in this show? I barely see them.

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As I was waching the end of this episode, my sis was listening to Alicia Keys "this girl is on fireee~ this girl is on fireee oooh~
Lol this is destiny for me.

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